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Broadcast Address

Last updated: October 30, 2011

What Does Broadcast Address Mean?

A broadcast address is a special Internet Protocol (IP) address used to transmit messages and data packets to network systems. Network administrators (NA) verify successful data packet transmission via broadcast addresses.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) clients use broadcast IP addresses to locate and transmit respective server requests.


Techopedia Explains Broadcast Address

When IP classes were designed, certain IP addresses were reserved for specific tasks. Broadcast addressing was designed to facilitate message broadcasting for all network devices.

The following is a broadcast addressing analogy:

A teacher is preparing to announce the winner of a student competition and can use either of the following approaches: (1) The teacher could stop by each student’s desk and discreetly reveal the winner's name, or (2) The teacher could announce the winner's name to the class and then ask the winner to stand for recognition. The second option, which is more efficient, is broadcast addressing in the real world.

In computing, a broadcast addressing example is Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), which does not support IPv4's zero network broadcast address ( As a workaround, IPv6 sends a multicast message to each host group member.


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